One of the grand traditions of our area is the annual National Rifle and Pistol Championships at Camp Perry. One of the even grander traditions of the National Matches is the First Shot Ceremony that opens the matches. Monday’s event was no different.
Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram, Director of the Army National Guard, made his remarks noting the history of Camp Perry and these shooting events. He noted how Camp Perry and the National Matches were begun under the leadership of then President Theodore Roosevelt, a former army officer himself who led a famous charge up San Juan Hill. He also took note of the poor shooting skills of the men in his charge. Ingram noted that President Roosevelt recognized the need for a continuing program to improve shooting skills of both the military and the civilian population.
Ingram was then handed a classic World War II vintage M1 Garand and fired the first shot downrange opening the 2012 National Rifle and Pistol Championships.
Prior to the first shot, a pair of U.S. Army Bradley Fighting vehicles rolled in and demonstrated an evasive maneuver while soldiers ran down the ramp in the back and set up a defensive perimeter followed by a single soldier carrying the American Flag which was raised opening the ceremony. The flag was handed to Gary Anderson, Director Emeritus of the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
The National Rifle and Pistol Championships will continue through August 15 at Camp Perry. The hosting of these world renowned shooting events is a cooperative venture among the CMP, the National Rifle Association and the Ohio National Guard. They consist of the National Trophy Rifle and Pistol Matches and Small Arms Firing Schools which are mandated by federal law and governed by the CMP and the NRA National Rifle and Pistol Championships, which are conducted by the NRA in conjunction with the National Matches. They have been held at Camp Perry since 1907. Over 5,400 individuals from all 50 states competed in the CMP National Trophy Matches and Small Arms Firing Schools in 2011. Approximately 500 volunteers and Ohio National Guard personnel come to Camp Perry to support the National Matches. In total, the National Matches generate upwards of $14-Million for the local economy each year.